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Vinales wins MotoGP opener

Vinales wins MotoGP opener - News

Spain's Maverick Vinales won MotoGP's season opener in Qatar on his Yamaha debut after a rain-delayed start.

Vinales, 22, mastered far-from-ideal conditions to finish ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso in second and Yamaha's fellow Italian Valentino Rossi, who was third, after rain had threatened to ruin the curtain-raiser under the Losail International Circuit's floodlights.

"It feels great," Vinales told after the race. "The track was so difficult. I was taking so much care at the start.

"Anyway, the bike was great. I have to say thanks to the team. Even if the conditions were difficult we were there all the time. I'm so pleased to be with Yamaha."

Reigning champion Marc Marquez had to settle for fourth as Vinales, who started on pole position, became the first rider to win on his debut for a new team since Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) in 2011.

Vinales dropped off the lead after a cautious start but regained the lead with seven laps remaining and, after being briefly edged out by Dovizioso, he went back to the front with two to go and held on for his second career MotoGP win.

Nine-time world champion Rossi worked his way through the field after starting from 10th on the grid.

Starting positions for the race, reduced from 22 to 20 laps, had been based on combined practice times after Saturday's qualifying had also fallen foul of the weather.

27 March 2017

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